Thursday, September 6, 2012

Plan B

As I may have mentioned, I read a lot of blogs.  I read a wide range from very conservative mommy bloggers to very liberal, and that's on purpose.  I try not to get myself into an internet echo chamber where I read things that validate me and only those things.  I try to be mindful that the world is so much bigger than me and my ideas about life.  One of my very favorites is Keiko's blog The Infertility Voice.  Recently she wrote this great post about women supporting each other and abortion rights and I figured I'd better chime in.

Anyway, one of the things that inevitably comes up during pharmacy school is Plan B.  It's a single dose medication that's designed to prevent ovulation or maybe prevent implantation of a fertilized egg (although we only suspect this, we don't actually know for sure it prevents implantation).  I personally am pretty sure abortion is immoral and I am pretty sure I'd never have one, based on my faith.  Preventing ovulation isn't causing an abortion though!  Totally different thing going on there.  My school has a stance of "we just won't talk about it" and other than the basic safety counseling things, we didn't.

In many if not all states, there are laws saying that a pharmacist has the right to refuse to dispense a medication based on her/his conscience.  This mostly means it's legal for Wal-mart to not carry Plan B (and maybe not any oral contraceptives, I don't know for sure).  It means that it's legal for any pharmacist to refuse to sell a medication whose use they disagree with on moral grounds.  Personally, if I ever own a pharmacy, it means I won't stock or dispense weight loss medications because they don't work very well and often cause other health problems.  Probably.  OK, I jest.  I'd probably carry them but counsel patients that they don't really work so probably aren't worth the money.

It annoys me to no end that this "conscience clause" is legal.  I think that if you choose the profession, it isn't your place to inflict your morals on your patients.  I think that once we take the Oath of the Pharmacist we commit to providing healthcare for every patient, no matter how I feel about the care the patient is getting.  How do I know if the pregnant 15 year old is promiscuous?  Maybe she's married.  How do I know why someone is taking Plan B unless it's being dispensed with what I'll call a rape cocktail (meds to prevent HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc)?  I'm not the prescriber and I shouldn't be inflicting my faith-based judgements on patients.  Plan B is over the counter, so yes, the pharmacist is the only person between the medication and the patient.  It is still not my job to decide things for the patient.  I'll determine if it's safe and appropriate for the patient, but it isn't my job to decide the ethics because my ethical decisions are not based on my patient's ethics. 

So for me, I think if you're going to be a pharmacist, you need to know that it includes dispensing contraception, and if you don't want to dispense it, work in a hospital and it happens less often or become a dentist and it will never be an issue.  Keep your conscience to yourself, thanks.

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